Yes, I did it. I bought a hand drill. No big deal, you say? Then you don't know me well. I'm a disaster with hand tools. If you live anywhere in the northeastern United States, it might be time to consider moving away. You don't want to be around when I turn this thing on.
YouTube, here I come. I'm determined to learn how to use this.
More material that fits neatly into the "no-fail, no-learn" category: The Zentangle® folks put out a Project Pack recently that included lots of new goodies to try. New white Gellyroll pens from Sakura. New black apprentice tiles, new black triangular tiles (called 3-Zs). Plus a new tangle and some experimental techniques. And some very fine videos.
Along with everyone else, I've been experimenting. Here are a couple of initial results.
More to come from that Project Pack.
Last but not least today. I am pretty chuffed about this one. It has been eluding me for well over a week. I think I tried it a good 4 times and couldn't figure it out (and it looks soooooo simple!), but I kept looking at it and thinking about it. Today I decided to tackle it again--on crappy copy paper, but I was thinking there was a good possibility I'd fail again.
But no. I succeeded! I really failed my way to success with this one.
Now, of course, I wish I had used better paper. But succeeding came as a total surprise!
Just to make sure I got it, I tried it again on a tiny scale a couple of hours later--and once again, failed. But I know I *am* getting it and will continue to practice until I feel I've got a good handle on this. If I was able to do it once, I know I can do it again.
Two very quick drafts. I'm continuing to practice drawing Celtic Knots. These were done on incredibly cheap blue scratch paper. This first one I actually did not intend to ink--I thought I would do a quick pencil draft (and did), but then decided to spend the time inking it. This was freehand and done in a rush.
In the draft below, I used a technique from a YouTube video to create a classic border. Since this was my first attempt, I used the same super-cheap blue scratch paper. This one took longer only because it had so many knots, but I still thought I would leave it just as pencil practice. And just as in the other case, I decided to take the time to ink it in. There's something so irresistible about "correcting" the sloppy pencil lines. Once again, this was drafted very fast.
While this is far-from-perfect (see the spots of white where I've corrected some "blobby" lines, not to mention the different sizes of lines), I notice that the eye tends to smooth things out and make it look better than it actually is. That's ok with me!
In the spirit of "Progress, Not Perfection," I am viewing sloppy progress as being better than no progress at all.
Here is my third "practice knot," done quickly in one of my journals. The lines are wonky but given how quickly I did it I'm pleased. I copied this from a handout I got from my friend (and teacher of drawing knots) Sadelle Witshire. The fact that it's a direct copy may not sound like much, but it's the first time I actually figured out (from looking at a finished knot) what the actual steps for drawing should be. That felt like a solid accomplishment!
I've been busy at home, continuing to unpack and sort things out. I treated the guest room wall to a new hand-painted mirror from the Sawmill River Arts Gallery, a wonderful artist owned spot.
And in sorting some things out in the basement, I located a long-lost, large quantity of linen for rug hooking--many, many yards. I'd bought a whole roll of this with a friend and we split the roll. Probably at least five years ago.
And then, oddly, we each proceeded to lose the linen. It disappeared in each of our houses, and no matter how hard we searched, we couldn't find it. How do you lose a huge amount of linen? But we did, and eventually we began to wonder if the idea that we had ever bought it and split the purchase was some form of folie a deux.
However, I found mine last week. We have proof! And better yet, I can now use it. Hurrah!
And finally, I'm happy to be reading this: Reckless Daughter, a Joni Mitchell biography, a loan from our excellent library that I've been waiting for.
A pretty good few days here.
You know, I'm not much of a fan of drawing hearts. I like seeing them when others draw them, but somehow I am just not attracted to doing it myself.
But in trying to learn to draw knots, I was asked to do just that--draw a simple heart border and convert it to Celtic interlaced knots. And when I finished, I was most definitely thinking about hearts--our globally connected hearts--and how much pain the world is in today. The focus required to draw interconnecting bands on knots reminds me of how we forget every day that we are dependent on each other to survive, and dependent on each other's love and kindness. We forget and forget and forget.
I want to remember.
There was another school shooting in the US today. My heart breaks, and continues to break, because of these repetitive, mindless, violent, deadly shootings, the innocent victims, and their families.
It felt very right to be drawing hearts, and connecting them.
Here's what I ended up with:
Certainly the calligraphy isn't great because this is just a practice draft, but I am happy with the final result.
Here was where I began (Step One in pencil), and below that, here's what it looked like inked in (Step Two).:
I've been taking a fabulous SkillShare Course on Celtic Knots offered by Sadelle Wiltshire, of whom I am a fangirl. She makes wonderful art you can see on her webpages, HERE or HERE.
Interlaced. Interconnected. We are. We must be. When will we learn to remember?
"Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."
Last week of the "Sketching and Watercolor" Course. It has been hard to keep up, although I can't exactly say why. Probably the fear of failure and fear of the blank page. Along with a healthy dose of "comparanoia," the paralyzing factor that happens when everyone's asked to post their pictures online--it's just too easy to start comparing, and often belittling one's own efforts.
So here's this final assignment, starting with the original object, a coffee pot.
I was looking at the pot from a slightly different angle than the photograph. I did a preliminary pencil sketch, inked it with waterproof ink, and then erased the pencil. After which, practically holding my breath, I picked up my waterbrush...
It ain't perfect, but I like it. Although I still feel verklempt about my progress with watercolor, I'm ok with this result. I may have whined at producing the weekly assignments, but it kept me working. And I know that when I'm working--practicing--some improvement will eventually happen.
I hope to keep working on my own. And yet...
Life does have a way of distracting us. Waiting in the wings and calling my name are (in no particular order):
"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
--Henry David Thoreau
I indulged myself today and spent a lot of the day drawing.
Now, I should know that feeling smug is never a good sign. We all know that, right?
But oh my, it's so easy to forget. I have been working on drawing knots, because I like the focus they require and the meditative state they produce, much like the Zentangle® process. I had tried some basic exercises and did well, so I was feeling like, "Hey--piece of cake. I got this! No sweat."
Um, no. I didn't.
My first attempt today was a total debacle. I've titled it, "Three Wrongs Do Not Make a Right." Here it is. See the bottom knot. The top one was so simple that it came out fine, but the moment I tried something even slightly complicated...
Confused--oh yes, I sure was. And totally not in a meditative space. I couldn't understand how I'd gone so wrong.
It was clearly time to go to yoga class, so I did. Ran some errands. Came back again and was determined to re-do it and have it work.
A couple of hours later (along with one additional complete meltdown, during which I was convinced I'd screwed up again), I'd produced this. This might just qualify as my first knot!
I was thrilled, but I sure hope this gets easier. At the meltdown point, when I was convinced that I'd gotten it all wrong again, I considered giving up entirely. But after a short walk, I came back and checked it and suddenly it looked fine. ??!! I have a lot to learn here, that's for sure.
As a celebration, I did a 5-minute sketch of my DunkinDonuts cup. Last night I finally found a water-soluble pen and so I did this sketch in less than 5 minutes and then used my waterbrush to spread some of the ink. Total time spent on this was about 7 minutes. Fun. Hardly a masterpiece but I do feel like I'm keeping my hand in again with drawing.
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
Here is the finish to yesterday's project:
Next came the homework for the sketching & watercolor course: painting a shoe. I'd done the prelminary sketching a few days ago (the November 4th post) and decided to re-draw and paint it from another angle. Here's the painting.
The drawing went fine, but as usual the painting didn't go well. The sole (the black thing under the shoe) did not end up looking like a sole. The real sandals are all-gray with a hint of gold where the light hits them. I feel "meh" about this painting.
Once the course is over (just another week) I'll be taking a more casual approach to learning watercolor. Something doesn't quite feel right for me with this course. She's a wonderful artist and teacher (I love her stuff), but perhaps she's beyond me at the moment. Still, I'm glad I did it. She's been great about providing feedback to every single one of a very large number of participants.
On the upside: I'm continuing to make progress on the kitchen and am actually finished. Until I live with it for a few weeks and begin to get a sense of where I would be better off moving things. That needs time, but everything's in an initial place for now. No more boxes! I cannot believe what a difference unpacking this room has made to me. I suddenly feel more optimistic and have a lot more mental space. Everything feels better. This is the half of the kitchen that has all the supplies for dyeing wool in one place:
"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
"In any household, junk accumulates to fill the space available for its storage."
~Boston's Irreversible Law of Clutter
"Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire." ~Wendell Berry
Clearly I'll need a quote to put on the page I just worked on today (below). Nothing has come to me yet. It's just begging for a quote, though. I don't think the page is finished, either. This is inspired by my new journal cover (see yesterday's post). I'm "knot good" at knots, but I am beginning to become interested in them.
A friend in Thailand who knows I make rugs sent me this utterly hilarious (but scary) link to a Black Hole Rug. I laughed out loud when I saw it...not that I'd want one! Check it out.
I finished a long-cherished old journal last night and started a new one today. I'm consciously trying to incorporate a lot of drawing into my journals, and it was hard to say goodbye to the old one as it's chock full of drawings.
But then I looked at the cover for my new journal and somehow I ended up doing this little drawing as an opener for it.
Inspiration posted below. Everyone has to start somewhere. Right?
More wonky drawing today. This week's assignment is on shoes. Every shoe I own is black, except for these sandals, so I did a preliminary drawing with one of them.
Everything I draw, no matter how bad it might be, does teach me something about drawing. I will persist!
By the end of the day I needed some stress-reduction so turned to tangling. I had two tangles I'd been wanting to try for quite some time, so I combined them onto one tile. Here is the tile with the linework but no shading, using the tangles Clob and Ving:
And here you have it below, with shading added:
Ahhhhhh. Tangling always works. I'm calmer after drawing simple lines.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been in intensive learning mode--taking a course on sketching and watercolor. I've been failing regularly in my attempts. And I'm also learning a lot. You can see previous entries on this experience HERE (the start of the series), HERE (scroll down to the bottom to see that one), HERE, and HERE.
It seems I can only do one thing at a time, though, so no tangling has been happening. I look forward to getting back to that. I am able to knit in the evenings, so I've been making Knitted Knockers (soft knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors) and will soon have about 60 of them to ship out for distribution. Today I went to the local yarn shop and picked up these yarns for future Knockers: [If you knit, I hope you will seriously consider making Knockers for women who need them post surgery.]
I have also been unpacking and the kitchen is nearly ready. Given that I do not know how to cook, how ready does it need to be? Well, once I get back to rug hooking, it needs to be ready for me to dye yarn and wool. Today I moved my "dye chest" into the kitchen, and more equipment will come. I'm very encouraged about this.
Here are my most recent drawings and watercolors. I hesitate to even term these "watercolors" as I'm truly struggling with the waterbrush and trying to resist going back to regular brushes.
Let me begin with a photo of the actual roses I was trying to capture, in their vase. Both roses were well-past their prime and beginning to die by the time I finally got to start drawing them.
Here is my teacher's comment on this painting--and I agree with it:
"In this version, the vase became the focal point, rather than the rose. Another really lovely drawing and color, but I think what is missing is the whites of the page and the lights on the flower. Well done!"
The final compliment was kind of her, but the analysis about the vase becoming the focal point is exactly right.
Before I saw her comment, though, I had decided to go back and try to add to this with another layer of color, to better shade it...
The teacher hasn't commented on this drawing yet.
I was so frustrated working on it. Once again I had the sense that the paint got away from me despite my best efforts.
And yet...it's overworked, but I think it's also stronger.
More importantly, every time I try this, and fail in epic fashion as I have so far, I do learn something.
In fact, I am chronicling this in public all because I so strongly believe that we often learn best by failing. Certainly we can choose to resist learning from failures, but usually the lessons are so "loud and clear," they can lead to real success if we can heed them.
Or so I hope! Ha.
Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite quotes:
"Success consists of going from failure to failure, without lost of enthusiasm."
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society